Theorising Heterosexism for Social Work Education

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In the United States and many other countries throughout the world, societal structures have been created to place some in a position of power and others into oppressed positions. These systems often remain unchallenged and force the oppressed into silence for fear of becoming outcasts. These systems affect everyone and can even go as far as making the oppressed internally believe that they are supposed to stay in their second class state. One of these many systems is heterosexism. This paper will cover what heterosexism is, the effects of heterosexism, how heterosexism relates to other forms of oppression, and what can be done to stop heterosexism from being perpetuated.
Julie Fish (2008) defines heterosexism, in her article, as the dominant standard that everyone is measured up to. Everyone is assumed to be heterosexual unless proven otherwise which then leads to sometimes being labeled as corrupt and of a lower status. Heterosexism is perpetuated through societal forces such as language, religion, and the media. This is heterosexism in a nutshell, but we must venture deeper for greater understanding. There are more complex issues that are part of heterosexism that affect people on both grand scale and individualistic levels. The following paragraphs will discuss these facets in more detail.
Heterosexism has many effects on people of both heterosexual and non-heterosexual orientations. First our focus will be on the oppressed group. Fish (2008) writes in her article that heterosexuality is made superior in two ways. The first way is defining heterosexuality as the correct sexuality and second by labeling anything but heterosexuality as immoral, unsafe, and abnormal. These two components are the bases for creating all sorts of ...

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...t these systems and create our own path. The system relies on its people. The fewer silent people it has the weaker it will become. The systems can always be changed. A little bit of change from a lot of people can make all the difference. The next time a heterosexist remark is made speak up instead of remaining silent because a few words spoken by many can make the whole system come crumbling down.

Works Cited

Fish, J. (2008). Far from mundane: Theorising heterosexism for social work education. Social
Work Education, 27, 182-193.
Murray, O. (2011). Queer youth in heterosexist schools: Isolation, prejudice and no clear supportive policy frameworks. Multicultural Perspectives, 13, 215-219.
Brennan, D. J., Craig, S. L., & Thompson, D. A. (2012). Factors associated with a drive for muscularity among gay and bisexual men. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 14, 1-15.

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